Why the object of exercise is not just a physical one: Regular exercise lowers depression risk by up to 30 per cent


Just 10 minutes’ brisk walking can improve your emotional state, according to a report being released by the Mental Health Foundation to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Taking part in regular physical activity can both increase self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety, according to the report.

And it can act as both prevention and treatment for various mental illnesses including depression and anxiety.

“One way to enhance our mental well-being and protect our mental health is through participating in physical activity,” it states.

And people who exercise regularly have a 20-30 per cent lower risk for depression and dementia.

The report suggests using physical activity to “regulate mood during the day” but warns against overdoing  it – for this could result in “short-lived negative effects” such as “low mood and irritability”. “People should choose a type of physical activity based on what they enjoy doing,” it adds.

But it warns that most people are not doing anywhere near enough exercise, with just 40 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women in the UK managing the two and a half hours a week recommended by the NHS.